New CenturyLink CTO Reorgs Management, Teams

Changes meant to support transformation into IT services company

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

March 5, 2015

3 Min Read
New CenturyLink CTO Reorgs Management, Teams
CenturyLink headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana. (Photo by CenturyLink)

It has been about four months since CenturyLink CTO Aamir Hussain has been in his role, and now he has a plan.

CenturyLink is an $18 billion telco that gets most of its revenue from its bread-and-butter network services but like many of its competitors has been spending a lot of time and money on growing its data center and cloud business.

To do that, it has made several acquisitions over the past several years. Companies it has acquired, combined with all the different “legacy” service teams, have made for a sprawling organization that has not delivered solutions to customers as quickly as it can.

This “velocity” problem is what Hussain has been thinking about over the past four months, which has culminated in the deep organizational changes he recently made across the entire organization.

Solutions Instead of ‘Widgets’

The changes are meant to support the company’s current business strategy. “We want to transform into an IP-based IT services company,” he said.

Instead of having countless disparate teams for every product and technology, there are now 10 groups organized by function. There are groups that deliver solutions to customers, and there are groups that work on the backend, making sure the infrastructure is in place to deliver those solutions, as well as groups that ensure the platform and the products continue to evolve.

Instead of building “widgets,” as CenturyLink has done until now, Hussain said, “we are building solutions, and we are also transforming how we onboard the customers to our network.”

The onboarding will happen through something called Platform CenturyLink, which will essentially be a centralized portal to buy and manage all the available services from. The company first announced it was working on a centralized platform for its services last October.

Changes at the Top

Leaders for most of the new groups have been selected internally, but there are also several leadership positions that will be filled by industry heavyweights from outside the company. “We are bringing some very high-power individuals to run some of these functions,” Hussain said.

The company is still negotiating with the people who will lead its new Business Transformation, Enterprise Architecture and Roadmaps, New Product Development Strategy and Innovation, and Test and Integration groups, so Hussain declined to name them.

The changes have not been limited to adding talent. The company has lost some as well. The most prominent example is the recent departure of senior vice president of cloud and technology Andrew Higginbotham, who had been with the company since 2001 and who led the acquisitions that were central to its data center and cloud services strategy. He oversaw the acquisition of Savvis in 2011, and the Tier 3 and AppFog acquisitions in 2013.

Bigger Purpose for Everyone

Change is never easy, and Hussain and his team spent a lot of time explaining to the staff why the reorganization was necessary. The roles of people on the “front lines” have not changed, he said. Somebody doing software development or quality assurance is still doing that. They are just part of a bigger organization with a bigger function now.

“The impact is in how we actually take our product development process and change it to be more customer-centric than what we had before,” Hussain said. “We are doing this for the benefit of our customers and to create velocity.”

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